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Old 03-10-2016, 10:26 PM   #1
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Bianchi question

20 years ago in the SO the leather of choice was evenly split between Safariland and Bianchi.
My old Bianchi 5B holster still looks and function great.
My Sargent carried his 1911 in what looked like a Bianchi Venom 75.
Considering a new holster for the 1911, I looked up the Bianchi Venom 75 and saw they were now stamped made in Mexico.
I have no problem with being made in Mexico but I do have issues with Mexican leather---quite frankly every bit of Mexican leather
work I've had over the years quickly commenced to stinking to high heaven after getting wet and continued stinking even when dried off and still stank until tossed into the trash.
So my question to you experts---what could I expect from a Bianchi "made in Mexico?"
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Old 03-11-2016, 05:50 AM   #2
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Hello Sir:

Leather quality can vary greatly anywhere. My wife says Italian is the best for shoes and handbags.

I have not used/purchased anything from Bianchi since...ah, well...ah...it has been a long time. In a typical twin plant operation, persons from the company called buyers select the raw materials and arrange for them to be transported to the plant. The labor intensive work is performed where the labor costs are lowest. The quality, or lack thereof in the raw materials is in the hands of the buyer(s).

Leather is a raw material that has varied quality. Did the animal eat naturally or did a human provide the animal growth supplements of the steroid variety. Makes a difference in price but should have no bearing on olfactory gland appeal.

A less than attractive odor of a finished leather holster following the application of water must be due to chemicals used after getting the hide off the hoof but before it reaches your hip. This has nothing to do with the national origin of the raw material or the workers providing the labor.

I would write to Bianchi and ask for some scraps. If they honor your request: wet them and store them. At periodic intervals, get them out and test them for less than Irish Spring like qualities. When you have friends over you can ask for their help.

Good luck in your search for a quality holster at an affordable price with a tolerable fragrance.
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Old 03-11-2016, 08:37 AM   #3
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Hello Sir:

Leather quality can vary greatly anywhere. My wife says Italian is the best for shoes and handbags.

I have not used/purchased anything from Bianchi since...ah, well...ah...it has been a long time. In a typical twin plant operation, persons from the company called buyers select the raw materials and arrange for them to be transported to the plant. The labor intensive work is performed where the labor costs are lowest. The quality, or lack thereof in the raw materials is in the hands of the buyer(s).

Leather is a raw material that has varied quality. Did the animal eat naturally or did a human provide the animal growth supplements of the steroid variety. Makes a difference in price but should have no bearing on olfactory gland appeal.

A less than attractive odor of a finished leather holster following the application of water must be due to chemicals used after getting the hide off the hoof but before it reaches your hip. This has nothing to do with the national origin of the raw material or the workers providing the labor.

I would write to Bianchi and ask for some scraps. If they honor your request: wet them and store them. At periodic intervals, get them out and test them for less than Irish Spring like qualities. When you have friends over you can ask for their help.

Good luck in your search for a quality holster at an affordable price with a tolerable fragrance.
Thank you!
I had a discussion about the origins of tanned leather with a saddle maker in the Southwest some time ago. He told me it depends on the custom of the industry in the country or origin. Leather is tanned in bulk at a few plants and typically exhibit the properties inherent to the tanning process used.
Leather from India, he told me, will quickly dry out and crack due to the process used (something about clay vats, IIRC) to the point that any leather dressings applied are useless to prevent cracking.
If Bianchi used leather originating from the US, I'd have no problem--I've just been burned too many times by leather originating in Mexico.
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Old 03-11-2016, 09:37 AM   #4
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I hear ya about the Mexican leather. You would think that a major holster maker would have quality controls in place to prevent the use of substandard materials, but nothing is guaranteed in this era of foreign manufacture.

Maybe you could Google Bianchi and see if there have been complaints.
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Old 03-11-2016, 11:37 AM   #5
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I guess a KISS answer was even in grown in the USA leather, raw material leather can be had at both ends of the spectrum. Food and age of animal are the differences.

Bianchi is/was a So Cal company. The holster being made in Mexico is not indicative of the source of the hides. Bianchi hides are most likely sent from the US to a plant in Northern Baja California. The source of the leather is not known to you, I or the saddle maker.

I have a closet full of boots made in Mexico from leather of unknown source. None of them smell as a result of exposure to water. I am willing to wager, though not a gambler, the difference in scent is the reaction of the leather and water to residual chemicals used in preparation.

Browning used to have a line of holsters marked made in Mexico. They were popular.
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Old 03-11-2016, 02:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by chuntaro View Post
I guess a KISS answer was even in grown in the USA leather, raw material leather can be had at both ends of the spectrum. Food and age of animal are the differences.

Bianchi is/was a So Cal company. The holster being made in Mexico is not indicative of the source of the hides. Bianchi hides are most likely sent from the US to a plant in Northern Baja California. The source of the leather is not known to you, I or the saddle maker.

I have a closet full of boots made in Mexico from leather of unknown source. None of them smell as a result of exposure to water. I am willing to wager, though not a gambler, the difference in scent is the reaction of the leather and water to residual chemicals used in preparation.

Browning used to have a line of holsters marked made in Mexico. They were popular.
Thanks! That really helps me out. I'll ask Bianchi were the hides are coming from and go from there. The Venom 75 looks like a good design.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:10 AM   #7
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Why not call El Paso Saddlery or one of the boot makers with offices in El Paso. Ask them why some leather products give off a foul odor following exposure to water and some do not. I am thinking the water used in rinsing, inadequate/incomplete rinsing or the dye.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:54 PM   #8
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The leather I had that stank consisted of tack and cheap belts. Not gun leather but it makes me dubious. I'm thinking the difference is between vegetable tanning and some other kind of tanning.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:28 PM   #9
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My ole alcohol soaked brain cells don't remember the proper terms but IIRC much of the older Mexican leather was tanned using a different process than we use in the USA. If Bianchi's QC processes are adequate it should be GTG, however it would never hurt to try to get a sample.
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Old 04-01-2016, 10:58 AM   #10
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Hi John,

I've used a Bianchi Model 83 PaddleLok leather holster since 09 and is has gotten fairly wet a few times (not in a LEO setting). It's always dried fine with no lingering odor however I have no idea where the leather came from or where tanned.

I think back when I got the holster they had facilities just up the road in Temecula, CA. Didn't they merge with someone a while back?

Anyway good luck on your quest.

ETA: the data sheet for the holster states "Vegetable-Tanned"

Respectfully,
Oldster

Last edited by Oldster; 04-01-2016 at 11:01 AM.
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